KANATA, Ont. – Erik Karlsson is continuing to make a case for Norris Trophy consideration.
The 21-year-old scored his 100th career assist, clinched a franchise record and jumped out to a 20-point lead among blueliners as the Senators earned a 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night.
"Sometimes you've just gotta be lucky," Karlsson said. "The team has been playing well and I feel really good out there."
Milan Michalek scored two goals, while Karlsson had a goal and two assists and set a new mark for most assists in a single season by a Senator. Chris Phillips and Nick Foligno also scored for the Sens.
Mathieu Perreault and John Carlson had goals in third period for Washington, which has now lost seven of its last 10 games.
Sens goalie Craig Anderson notched his fourth win in a row and made 33 saves, while Tomas Vokoun was pulled after letting in four goals on 11 shots. Michal Neuvirth relieved him and made 14 saves.
Alexander Ovechkin, who according to Caps coach Dale Hunter, was a game-time decision with a lower-body injury and did not play. Ovechkin attempted to participate in the morning practice, but left after taking the first rush. After the skate, he claimed that he was "not feeling well," but did not go into further detail. There was no update on Ovechkin's condition after the game.
Ottawa opened the scoring at 9:36 in the first, when Jason Spezza circled back and dished off to Karlsson, who dished a seeing-eye wrist shot through Vokoun's five-hole from the top of the right faceoff circle. It was the sixth consecutive game where the Sens have scored first (and were 4-0-1 coming into Wednesday's game).
"The pass (from Spezza) was decent," Karlsson joked. "I got a pretty good screen on the goaltender, too."
"Erik and I have good chemistry and we read off each other pretty well," Spezza said. "I knew he'd be coming up there. I kind of took a peek before he got the puck, and it was a great goal by him."
With that assist, Spezza's point streak now stretches into 16 points in seven games (7 goals, 9 assists).
The Senators went up 2-0 when Karlsson's hard bank shot off the boards went directly to Michalek. The winger dragged the puck through the legs of Dennis Wideman and slipped the puck under the pad of Vokoun for a highlight-reel goal at 14:13.
Ottawa continued to add to its lead in the second, when Karlsson's slap shot from the blue line was redirected by Michalek and past Vokoun for a power-play goal and his second of the night at 3:37. With his 47th assist of the year, Karlsson passed Norm MacIver to hold the Senators' single-season assist record.
Michalek, who now has a personal season-best with 27 goals, was relieved to be finding the back of the net once more.
"It is a long season," he said. "I struggled before, but I think I've got my confidence back and hopefully it's good."
The second power-play goal of the night would come from Phillips, when Troy Brouwer was in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct at 10:29. Phillips wired a shot past Vokoun from the top of the faceoff circle at 12:08, making the score 4-0. The veteran defenseman has 4 goals in his last six games.
The Capitals would get on the board early in the third, when Kyle Turris was called for hooking just 22 seconds into the period. Alexander Semin passed off to Carlson, who broke Anderson's shutout bid at 2:19. With that helper, Semin recorded his 200th career assist.
Washington cut Ottawa's lead in half when Jason Chimera's shot deflected off of Perreault's face and found its way past Anderson at 9:57 to make it 4-2.
Nick Foligno added an empty-net goal for the Sens with 1:13 left.
For the Capitals, who currently sit in 10th place in the East, they once again failed to earn two very valuable points in the standings.
"We got behind real quick on a couple of miscues in the d-zone," forward Brooks Laich said. "I thought we were able to battle back a little bit. We shot ourselves in the foot with penalties – mine especially – and we just dug too big of a hole. At the end the day, we needed to have a better start, have a better effort because that's all that matters. We've got to find a way to get points to start climbing the standings."